Cheap and Free Things to Do in Brooklyn for the Frugal Adventurer
A native Brooklynite offers the frugal foodie, scholar, or runner valuable suggestions on how to enjoy one of the priciest boroughs of New York City without breaking the bank.
$14 gimlets. $10 organic vegan ice cream sundaes. Welcome to Brooklyn, one of the most expensive areas of the U.S. to live in, according to Bloomberg. As a native Brooklynite, I’m always looking for amazing, but cheap things to do in Brooklyn with my family and friends. Here’s a list of cheap and free ideas that I’ve curated over the years, just in time for one of the best seasons of the year:
For the Outdoorsy Type
From kayaking to soccer, Brooklyn Bridge Park offers a ton of cheap options for outdoor entertainment. Plus, the views are stunning.
Meanwhile, with 526 acres of forest grounds, Prospect Park is lovingly known as “Brooklyn’s Backyard.” It features two basketball courts, more than a dozen ballfields, a 3.35-mile cycling and running loop, and a 3.5-mile bridle path for horseback riding. For the yogis out there, the Prospect Park Alliance offers Yoga in the Park, a free summer outdoor yoga program. For nature lovers like me, the Audubon Center offers a wide range of free public programs that allow visitors to explore the diversity of nature. Don’t forget to check out the Fall Foliage Walk in October.
True to its legacy as the “People’s Playground,” Coney Island organizes plenty of free activities and programs for visitors of all ages.
Along the three miles of public beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, there are free volleyball, handball, and basketball courts, as well as playgrounds.
Every Saturday, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden will waive its $15 entry fee if you arrive before noon.
Of course, the best way to get to know Brooklyn is on foot. Explore Brooklyn is an excellent resource for self-guided walks in neighborhoods such as Red Hook, Williamsburg, and Crown Heights, among others.
For the Foodie
Are you an omnivore? Check out Industry City’s enormous food court and collection of public courtyards. Prices range from $5 to $25, and the restaurants often offer free samples.
Sunset Park, my childhood neighborhood, is rich with Latinx and Chinese restaurants, especially budget-friendly ones. One of my favorite things to do is visit the park itself, which boasts one of the best views of New York City from its hill.
Who can say no to $2.50 pizza slices or $4 breakfast tacos?
GrubStreet’s “Best New Cheap Eats” selection includes a number of Brooklyn restaurants. Meanwhile, if you’re into karaoke, you can head to the Alligator Lounge on Metropolitan Avenue for free pizza with every drink you purchase.
For the Artsy and Creative Sorts
Part lab, part museum, the nonprofit Pioneer Works in Red Hook offers a unique program of lectures, concerts, and courses that blur the lines between art and science. Admission? Free.
New York City’s premier photo festival, Photoville, a free and open-to-the-public event at Brooklyn Bridge Park, takes place in September.
On the second Monday of every month, Franklin Park — the Crown Heights beer garden — hosts a free reading series featuring both new and established writers.
The Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Public Library also offer terrific public events at no cost.
Make sure to join these groups’ email lists and follow them on social media for more cool events and programs!